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Mortgage complaints top state’s list

Boston, MA - 05-19-11 - Attorney General Martha Coakley (cq) holds a press conference at the AG's office to announce the arrest of of Andres Townes (cq). He is a MBTA subcontractor and was arrested in connection with an alleged scheme to produce millions of dollars woth of MBTA monthly passes and sell them directly to riders. (Globe staff photo/Bill Greene) section:metro, reporter:moscowitz

Bill Greene/Globe Staff/File

Attorney General Martha Coakley seen at a press conference earlier last year.

Nearly 1,000 Massachusetts residents called the state attorney general’s office with mortgage and foreclosure-related problems last year, vaulting those issues to the top of the consumer-complaint list, Attorney General Martha Coakley said today.

Over the last two years, the number of mortgage-related complaints recorded by the state have more than quadrupled, and now exceed complaints related to automobile sales and leasing, which have historically been the biggest source of consumer concerns, Coakley said.

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“This data confirms what we have known for some time -- the subprime lending and foreclosure crisis is a major concern for homeowners who are often faced with losing their most valued possession,’’ she said in a statement. “It is further evidence that resolving this foreclosure crisis is the single most important thing we can do to restore a healthy economy.”

Coakley spoke about the rise in consumer housing queries this morning at a meeting hosted by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce at the InterContinental Boston.

Complaints are registered by staffers at the Attorney General’s Public Inquiry and Assistance Center and at regional and local offices. A consumer hotline -- 617-727-8400 -- takes thousands of calls each year. In addition to housing issues, common issues include home improvement concerns, debt collection, and retail sales.

Coakley is considered by many housing activists to be a national leader in fighting predatory lending and mortgage fraud. Last month, she filed a lawsuit against five major lenders, breaking from national settlement talks between US attorneys general and banks over the foreclosure crisis.

Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at jmckim@globe.com.
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